The Word and World Reading programme aimed to improve the reading comprehension and wider literacy skills of children aged 7 – 9 from low income families. The programme focused on improving the vocabulary and background knowledge (sometimes labelled ‘core knowledge’) of pupils, through the use of specially designed ‘knowledge rich’ reading material, vocabulary word lists, a read-aloud approach, and resources such as atlases and globes. The programme is based on the rationale that children need background knowledge to be able to comprehend what they read, and that improving background knowledge is an effective way to help struggling readers.
This pilot evaluation involved 17 primary schools from across England. Participating schools received training that emphasised the consistent and sequenced use of vocabulary, direct instruction, and teacher questioning. Year 3 and 4 classes in participating schools followed the approach for the whole 2013 – 14 academic year. The programme was developed and delivered by The Curriculum Centre, a charitable organisation which is part of Future Academies.
The evaluation had three aims. First, to assess the feasibility of the approach and its reception by schools. Second, to assess the promise of the approach and provide recommendations that could be used to improve the approach in the future. Third, to provide recommendations that could be used to design any future trial, including an assessment of the appropriate size of any future trial.